Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Smithiantha zebrina Kuntze

Frost tender rhizomatous perennial with heart-shaped leaves, marked dark green or purple-brown along the veins, and scarlet and yellow flowers with red-spotted throats, in summer.  To 75cm by 35cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

According to Paxton’s Magazine of Botany introduced to Britain in 1840, by M. Doncklaer of the Botanic Gardens of Ghent.  [REF].  ‘Whether in leaf or flower this is a plant of striking beauty.  Its leaves are soft with down, broad and beautifully stained with purple in the direction of the principal ribs, so as to have the banded appearance which has given rise to the name.  The flowers, scarcely less than an inch and a half long, hang gracefully at the end of long slender stalks, and are of the richest scarlet and yellow, variegated with crimson spots.’  [BR f.16/1842].  The Gardeners’ Chronicle was scarcely less enthusiastic in 1849: ‘A more useful plant than this for decorating the stove and conservatory during the autumn and winter months can hardly exist.’  [Gard. Chron. 1849].  In 1852 this journal commented: ‘The rich, green, velvety-like, and elegantly marked foliage of this lovely Gesnera renders it a pleasing and attractive object during all stages of its growth; and its fine spikes of deep red and orange blossoms are fully worthy of the fine foliage from which they issue.’  [Gard. Chron 1852].  BM t.3940/1842.  OFG f.73/1853.

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [B.117/1857].


See also Smithiantha zebrina (Paxton) Kuntze var. geroltiana (Kunth & Bouche) Voss.

Published Aug 31, 2009 - 04:55 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2010 - 05:20 PM

Figured are heart-shaped leaves with purple veins, and scarlet and yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.3940, 1842.

Smithiantha zebrina Kuntze | BM t.3940/1842 | BHL 

Family Gesneriaceae
Region of origin


  • Gesneria zebrina Pax.
  • Naegelia zebrina Regel
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Gesnera zebrina 

Confidence level high